Changes in food should be gradual and take place over a 3- to 5-day span. Inquire as to the kind of food your dog was fed in the shelter. If you plan to change dog food, introduce one-third of the new with two-thirds of the old shelter food for two days, followed by two-thirds of the new with one-third of the old for two days. Then start feeding all of the new food on the fifth day.
Feeding time is the highlight of the dog’s day. Dogs are entirely dependent on their owners to provide a balanced diet that meets all of their nutritional requirements. Feed your dog the highest quality dog food you can afford. A dry kibble-type food is best. All dogs are individuals and their needs may vary depending on activity, breed and age. Feed for 30 minutes per feeding then remove the food. Don’t leave food out all day. When dogs are free to eat at any time it’s hard to establish regularity. These dogs are prone to obesity. Have regular times of the day for feeding. Try not to feed after 6 or 7 p.m. Do not feed for one hour before or after strenuous exercise. The dog should always have clean water available.
If you have more than one dog, feed both simultaneously. If you have a long-legged dog, place the food on a low bench. This aids in digestion. If your dog refuses food for more than 24 hours consult your veterinarian. Don’t feed before car travel.
Food manufacturers offer food for different stages of a dog’s life. They believe nutritional needs change as they grow, so there are different foods for puppies, for mature dogs, for extra-active dogs and for adult dogs. Foods designed for puppies are higher in fat (to meet their high-energy needs), higher in protein and fortified with vitamins and minerals to enhance growth and development. Puppy food is specially formulated for dogs until they reach maturity (the larger the dog the longer they take to mature). A general rule for puppies is to feed smaller portions more often but don’t exceed their daily caloric requirement. For puppies less than three months of age, you may prefer to soften their dry food with a little warm water. There is current debate over the merits of specially formulated puppy food. Consult your veterinarian for the type of food and schedule they recommend.